Delma Banks (Texas prison photo)
TEXARKANA (August 2, 2012)—Delma Banks, 53, one of the state’s longest-serving death row inmates, will be spared from execution for a slaying more than three decades ago under a sentencing agreement that makes him eligible for parole in 12 years.
Banks arrived on death row in 1980 after his conviction for stealing a car and shooting a teenager to death six months earlier near Texarkana in far northeast Texas.
Wayne Whitehead, 16, was shot twice in the head.
Prosecutors said Banks stole the teenager’s car and drove to Dallas after the shooting.
Banks long argued his trial was unfair, contending prosecutors withheld information that a witness during his punishment trial was a paid police informant.
Banks' lawyers argued prosecutors in Bowie County improperly withheld the transcript of a pretrial interview of a key witness.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Banks' conviction, but agreed he should receive a new punishment hearing.
The plea agreement was reached Wednesday.
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped Banks' execution about 10 minutes before he could have been taken to the Texas death chamber.